With SummerSlam on the horizon and with so many matches already announced or anticipated, looking back on the moments that have occurred at the yearly event is something that’s always appropriate at this time.
What WWE calls “the greatest party of the summer” has never really disappointed, the action delivered at these annual events equal to that at WrestleMania, some would argue.
Join me as I take a look back at some of the greatest SummerSlam moments of all time.
10. Warrior demolishes The Honky Tonk Man—1988
The Ultimate Warrior has always been one for high-energy moments, delivering matches and instances throughout his career—even his promos—that were full of energy, and so much so, it could be felt through the TV screen.
True to his reputation, it was at the very first SummerSlam in 1988 that he ran out to the ring, and in under a few short minutes, he utterly destroyed the hip-swaying Honky Tonk and took the IC title to boot.
9. Brock defeats The Rock—2002
Brock Lesnar had one of the fastest rises in the business of professional wrestling. Maybe the only man to rival Brock’s rise was Goldberg, whom WCW put through the gamut really quickly—some even say much too quickly. Brock had a slightly slower build, but he rose to prominence on his dominance alone.
The next Big Thing was ready for the big time in the same year that he premiered in the business (2002). By the time that SummerSlam rolled around, Dwayne was ready to pursue a Hollywood career that had started to spark considerably, and the vacant spot for the “Number 1” made room for Brock, who was waiting in the wings like some…well, like the Beast Incarnate.
He eventually became the youngest champion in history at the time, beating the Rock in a match that saw the favor of the universe shift from one star on his way out, to the star that was on his way in.
8. A TLC Match for the ages—2000
You can’t say the letters TLC without thinking of Edge, Christian, the Hardy Boys, and the Dudley Boys. These gentlemen invented and perfected the art form known as the TLC match as it is known today.
Their match at SummerSlam 2000 let the whole wrestling world know that the game had certainly changed, and the repeat performance at WrestleMania 17 didn’t at all disappoint either. The action delivered in the inaugural match at SummerSlam, though, was enough to be considered for this list; frame for frame that match was perfection to a T.
7. A Highway To Hell—1998
Yeah, it’s a song from rock band AC/DC, but in 1998, “the biggest party of the summer” wasn’t being held beside some pool, people with bathing suits sipping at drinks. It would be held in hell, and who else to helm an event in hell but Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Dead Man, The Undertaker himself?
The match didn’t go off without a hitch; there were a few issues with it, as it was heavily or slightly criticized at the time and by many in the media, specifically by Dave Meltzer. He gave the match 3.5 stars, which isn’t the worst, but it isn’t perfect either.
Yet the momentum that Steve Austin was on after his title win at WrestleMania against Shawn Michaels was enough to forgive the portion of that match that was a little less than stellar.
An honorable mention from that PPV is definitely the Lion’s Den match pitting Owen Hart vs. Ken Shamrock. To see Owen Hart in Shamrock’s wheelhouse, for lack of a better term, was something quite special to see.
6. A portal into the depths—2008
And to stay on The Undertaker for a tad longer. What about his match at SummerSlam against Edge? Now that was a moment to be remembered as well. If you haven’t ever seen it, please look for it on the network, as you won’t regret it. The finale was seething in gimmick, but when it comes to The Undertaker, we’ll take all the gimmick we can get.
After the match was over, Taker not satisfied with not having absolutely demolished his nemesis, came back down the ramp and sent Edge through the canvas, at which point he summoned an explosion of fire, his nemesis, thus being delivered to the depths of where Undertaker himself had been unearthed.
5. The crown of crowns—1991
No, we’re not talking about how Shinsuke Nakamura took Baron Corbin’s crown, and although that is a really cool storyline, we’re talking about the time that The Legion of Doom became Triple Crown champions.
The Legion of Doom need no introduction we’re sure, but that moment goes in the history books and is in fact a rather important moment in wrestling history overall, as by defeating the Nasty Boys on that night, they became the first-ever tag team to win the NWA, WWE and AWA tag championships.
4. Shane McMahon falls 50 feet—2000
It was a match in which the son of the chairman himself took on martial arts master, Steve Blackman. Now, Shane had gotten in the ring before and he sure has gotten into the ring since, and every time was something very special. But on this night, perhaps nobody expected him to climb the Titantron and fall 50 feet after being hit by a fusillade of shots from a Kendo stick. What’s funny to notice here is the look on Blackman’s face as Shane falls the great distance!
3. The Mountie spends the night in jail—1991
Jacques Rougeau has given a lot to the world of professional wrestling. His position in the annals of pro wrestling is definitely secure and most deservedly so. He is most known for his time in the Quebecers tag team and his time as the Mountie.
As the Mountie he had great feuds—even with the legend, Bret Hart—but it was this memory in which after his Jailhouse Match loss against The Big Boss Man, he gets put in the slammer.
2. Two legends finally meet—2016
To say that John Cena was the franchise is an understatement. He definitely picked up the reins that were left loose to dangle ahead of the carriage when The Rock went on to other endeavors and Steve Austin was forced to retire due to his injuries.
But on the independent circuit and in the smaller companies in the industry, AJ Styles was equally considered a legend and rightfully so.
It was in 2016 that AJ would finally come to WWE and it wouldn’t be until SummerSlam season that he and Cena would meet. The highly anticipated match finally happened at SummerSlam 2016 and did not disappoint.
1. Brother vs. Brother-In-Law—1992
I’ve written about him before and I’ll write about him again, because I believe that The British Bulldog was the greatest wrestler that ever lived…pound for pound. The balance, the magic that were his movements, the fluidity and the conviction of the movements and his delivery; he was a gift to the industry, a gift that was taken away much too soon.
His match against Bret Hart, his brother-in-law in real life, had all the buildup necessary to pique the interest of even a casual fan.
The match itself was an absolute masterpiece and the match deserves the top moment on this list because of how it ends. If you haven’t watched it, I’ll leave the ending a surprise, but for those of us who are in the know…we can share a collective moment of silence.
If you’ve never watched it…what are you waiting for? And, most importantly….you’re welcome.